WCW: Kelly Macdonald


Scottish actress Kelly Macdonald is incredibly talented, stunningly beautiful, and has that great Glaswegian accent. She started in hipster movie Trainspotting, but quickly transitioned to doing many frock flicks. Let’s check out her resume!


Cousin Bette (1998)

The adaptation of the Balzac novel, set in the 1840s. Macdonald plays the sweet, pretty, young daughter of a rich family who marries older cousin Bette’s crush, launching all kinds of revenge.

1998 Cousin Bette

Macdonald is perfect for this era with her sausage curls.

1998 Cousin Bette

Pretty in pink ruffles!

1998 Cousin Bette

Having her hair styled by cousin Bette.

1998 Cousin Bette

It’s not my look, but if you’re gonna bonnet, at least trim the bejesus out of it!


Elizabeth (1998)

The loosely-based-on-history biopic of Queen Elizabeth I’s early reign. Macdonald plays “Isabelle” Knollys, the attendant who hooks up with Robert Dudley and gets poisoned in the process.

Elizabeth (1998)

That’s her in the pink, Indian-style brocade.

Elizabeth (1998)

On the right, in the very Florentine dresses that all the lady’s maids wear.

1998 Elizabeth

Watching the queen dance.

1998 Elizabeth

Probably making eyes at Robert Dudley!


My Life So Far (1999)

“A year in the life of a ten-year-old Scottish boy.” Looks like this is set in the 1920s? Looks like Macdonald plays the boy’s older sister.

1999 My Life So Far

The only image I can find of Macdonald (back right) in the film!


Gosford Park (2001)

The faaaabulous 1930s-set country house party/murder mystery. Macdonald plays the young and naive lady’s maid to Maggie Smith’s character.

2001 Gosford Park

Wearing her hair bobbed, which would be dated by now.

2001 Gosford Park

It’s hard out here for a lady’s maid!

2001 Gosford Park

She learns from the more experienced servants.


Brush With Fate (2003)

A TV movie about an imaginary Vermeer painting as it travels through time and various owners. Macdonald plays “Aletta,” and I’m not sure which time period her character is in?

2003 Brush with Fate

According to the plot summary in Wikipedia, the film includes bits in the late 19th century and early 18th, among others. It’s set in the Netherlands, so maybe this is a supposed to be a regional style?


Finding Neverland (2004)

A very fictionalized take on playwright J.M. Barrie writing the play “Peter Pan.” Macdonald plays Peter in the play-within-a-film.

2004 Finding Neverland

Hence the stage makeup!


Nanny McPhee (2005)

A magical nanny arrives to take care of some children in the late 19th century. Macdonald plays “Evangeline, the Browns’ scullery maid, who dreams of being an educated lady” per Wikipedia.

2005 Nanny McPhee

Evangeline helps with the children; is this story hour?

2005 Nanny McPhee

Evangeline comes up in the world. The costumes are very bright/over the top in this.


Boardwalk Empire (2010-14)

Crime happens in 1920s Atlantic City. Macdonald plays “Margaret Thompson – a young widow and mother who turns to Nucky for help out of an abusive marriage, becoming his mistress and later his wife” (thanks Wikipedia). I know I SHOULD want to watch this, but I’ve never been inspired!

2010-14 Boardwalk Empire

Some kind of Egyptomania party?

2010-14 Boardwalk Empire

That’s very pretty, with the dropped waistline and dress clips.

2010-14 Boardwalk Empire

Clearly she comes up in the world! Great collar! Okay so it reads more 1930s than 20s…


Anna Karenina (2012)

The movie-as-play adaptation starring Keira Knightley. Macdonald plays Dolly, a Russian princess whose husband is cheating on her.

2012 Anna Karenina


2012 Anna Karenina

Clearly she gets pregnant at some point | Copyright: Mary Evans AF Archive Universal Pictures


Swallows and Amazons (2016)

An adaptation of a 1930 children’s novel. Macdonald plays the mother of some children on holiday.

2016 Swallows and Amazons

More meh!


Goodbye Christopher Robin (2017)

The biopic about Winnie the Pooh author A.A. Milne. Macdonald plays Milne’s son’s nanny.

Goodbye Christopher Robin (2017)

Wearing serviceable nanny gear.

2017 Goodbye Christopher Robin

In uniform.


Holmes & Watson (2018)

The supremely un-funny Sherlock Holmes movie. Macdonald plays Mrs. Hudson, Sherlock’s landlady.

2018 Holmes & Watson

Clearly she’s a fun landlady!

2018 Holmes & Watson

I really wanted to see the costumes in this, which look theatrical but good, but I couldn’t get past how un-funny the film was.


Urban Myths (2019)

A British comedy TV show that tells supposedly true stories about real people. Macdonald plays Princess Margaret in the episode in which she supposedly hangs out with Mick Jagger.

2019 Urban Myths

VERY 1960s!


Operation Mincemeat (2021)

Set during World War II, about the British deception operation of the Second World War to disguise the 1943 Allied invasion of Sicily. Macdonald plays a widowed secretary who is key to the plot.

2021 Operation Mincemeat

Nicely elegant!

2021 Operation Mincemeat

Excellent victory rolls.

What’s your favorite Kelly Macdonald frock flick role?

17 Responses

  1. MsNomi

    You really should force yourself to take Boardwalk Empire for a test drive. It really is very good, but then I’m partial to 1920’s frocks and Steve Buscemi.

    • SarahV

      She, at some point, works as a very correct businesswoman in a respectable office, and her period, professional wardrobe is so lovely! I covet, lordy, how I covet!

    • Heather Ripley

      Agree!! BE is very much worth it.
      I just love to hear her speak too. In a FF or modern film, Kelly never fails to deliver an intense performace.

  2. Roxana

    There were a whole lot of Knollys, children of Elizabeth’s cousin Catherine Carey and Francis Knollys, but no Isabelle. It was Lettice who snatched Dudley from under Elizabeth’s nose, in the 1580s.

    • LJ

      Isabelle is a fictional character for the movie, since she meets a demise that Lettice Knollys did not.

  3. Nico

    I hope you will review Gosford Park one day, it’s such a good film.It’s like Downton Abbey without all the sugar!

  4. Boxermom

    Not a Frock Flick, but the first thing I saw her in was No Country for Old Men. Her American accent was so good, I was shocked to find out that she’s Scottish! :)

    • Kat

      My first intro to her was in the adorable but less known romcom The Decoy Bride where she gets to make full use of her Scottish accent – plus David Tennant in a kilt!

      • Boxermom

        Just watched the trailer on Youtube – think I’ll be checking it out in the near future. Thanks! :)

        • MNdragonlady

          Love, love, love The Decoy Bride. It’s completely silly, but also so sweet. Definitely worth the watch@

  5. Mary

    Not a frock flick, but her Grey Lady ghost of Ravenclaw House is clearly medieval.

  6. Cláudio Alves

    I loved her BOARDWALK EMPIRE, a show whose biggest problem is that the lead character is its least interesting character. It is, however, a rather excellent overview of society throughout the 1920s in Atlantic City, dealing with themes of war-related trauma and racial tensions, Black wealth and queer lives not usually depicted when dramatizing the period. I’m not sure I’d recommend it if you’re not convinced, however. After all, it’s quite a significant time investment.

    It should be noted that the last shot you include is from the fifth and last season, which is set in 1931, hence the style she’s sporting.

  7. MJ

    Really loved her on Boardwalk Empire. I saw her in almost everything she made prior to it, but she sold me as a leading lady in that.

  8. SarahV

    Lookit! That’s Emily Mortimer with her as another of Cate Hudson’s attendants in Elizabeth!

    • Kat

      Hilariously playing Elizabeth’s governess Kat Ashley despite Mortimer being 3 years younger than Blanchett.

  9. Frances

    The gold Egyptian Revival ensemble she wears to the Egyptian-themed party in Boardwalk Empire is one that I would most like to copy. I loved Boardwalk, and thought their hat game was better than Downton Abbey at the time. And, yes, the last dress is from the 30s.

  10. M.E. Lawrence

    Wow, that was Maggie Smith’s sweet little lady’s maid in “Gosford” (who was more complex than she seemed)? I loved her interplay with Emily Watson.